Why add unconnected profiles?

+32 votes
I stumbled upon this profile, and while interesting I question the need for this profile on Wikitree.   I look at the mission of Wikitree

Our mission is to connect the human family on one tree that's free and accessible to everyone.

And say...so the purpose of adding someone that is not my ancestor, and is not connected to anyone on the tree...is????  No parents, no siblings, no wife or children.   I understand unconnected branches....where I have a branch of my family that is not connected to the tree...but, I do not understand a "standalone" profile.

I understand that there are those that love to find the unique and interesting people to add to Wikitree, but, can we go one step further?   Let's see how the person relates to the big tree?

If I am way off base, please say so...I just think of Wikitree as the place where we all figure out how we all relate and adding people with no connection seems like...well, I want to know how they relate...
WikiTree profile: Jehan Bodel
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (643k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith
I'm not disagreeing with you, but isn't this what the cemeterists do all the time?
Just because he's not connected now, doesn't mean he won't be eventually. Why NOT add him?
Anne, On a trip I took photo's of any graves that had names I am researching, added profiles and then searched for those names. Those profiles do not connect to my line, yet, but they could someday and for that reason I say if we have sources for anyone they belong on here because the more profiles added the greater the odds that we will reach our mission of connecting everyone.
Thanks for all the discussion, that is what I wanted to start...it is the balance of well documented profiles with the creation of unconnected profiles....
I spoke with one person who posts vets of a specific genera (not American) as unique profiles (i.e. disconnected). He told me that descendants of these profile has found them via google search and contacted him and that has allowed him to share and collect a lot more information about this period. I'm not making a case one way or the other - just sharing something I thought was interesting.
I collect all TREMBLAYs (+ spelling variations) from which I descend three times, so besides connecting my families to the main tree I am looking at other TREMBLAY profiles, a number of which don't connect or else no longer have Profile Managers, so I have been adopting some as well as connect any unconnected lines I can. It is proving to be time consuming but interesting.  The most interesting one (which I have not made any headway on) is where the son is born 40+ years after the father and the grandson is born about 7 years before the father!
James LaLone, I tend to collect Moseleys (and Mosleys, and Moselys...). All evidence thus far points to them all being from the same family that came through Virginia before the American Revolution so I try to connect them as best I can. It gets very convoluted with my people too, as so many of them were named William! It's a wonder I still like that name, considering how many there were in my line and how confusing that makes it.
James, I appreciate your doing this as I have about 75 Tremblays in my extended family tree (my grandmother was a Tremblay).  I've seen your name on quite a few of them.  There are a couple of siblings I found on a census record and added but had trouble deciphering their names (due to apostrophe's and unfamiliar writing).  Perhaps you would take a look to see if you can make some improvements?


I have added a number of profiles, usually those surnames I am researching.  I add them when I come across them in the documents, intending to research them more later. In addition to helping me create my own "to do" list, it also is a way to let others on Wikitree know there are persons in need of connection.   There may be others here who can add information to a profile that will move it toward connection.  Some profiles start with just a skeleton!
Cynthia Cooper, you're Se'a Tremblay-2494 is no doubt Marie-Lea, born and Bap. 7 Oct 1838 St-Antoine-de-Padres de Longueuil, d. 1853.  I have seen where the written "L" has been transcribed as "S" before.

For Seraine Tremblay-2495, my take on him is that is Nazaire who was born 11 Feb 1851/bap. 12 Feb 1851 St-Antoine-de-Padres de Longueuil.  Hope that helps.
James, thank you so much!  I will fix them right up.

All TREMBLAYs in Canada are related because they descend from the same immigrant ancestor to Quebec. I have a few of them in my family tree.

Some of these Canadian TREMBLAYs moved to the USA .. especially during the manufacturing boom circa 1900. I do not know if a TREMBLAY ever went from France to the USA.

Right now I am working on linking some of the largest unconnected branches on wikitree to the global wikitree. These include a lot of countries outside North America ... but I am using their immigrants to North America as the link.

So it may take some time, but maybe one future day, we can have most people connected on wikitree  :)
G. Redmond -There is a TREMBLEY family from Switzerland if I remember correctly which settled in New Jersey and spread out with the spelling being corrupted to one of the other spellings (about 20 or so spelling variations for TREMBLAY).  It should be noted that TREMBLAY is also a "dit: name for a few families so not all connect (at least by the male line) to Pierre. The TREMBLAY family is considered one of the largest (if not the largest) single families in North America.

17 Answers

+39 votes
Best answer
I have added a branch of my family (about 100 profiles) that while  it is not connected to my own tree, I have researched the spouses and lines, in the hope that it will one day connect to someone elses tree. Whilst my own tree is connected to the 'one' tree, this branch is my brickwall. A link to the 'one' through a spouse, would in a way reunite it to my own family.
by Dave Welburn G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
selected by K Suire
+17 votes
The PM for that profile is also adding lots of unconnected modern day actors & entertainers. Perhaps he should be invited to join the Connectors Project so that he can see how his work is affecting the Unconnected People list....
by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
+38 votes
I just added an unconnected profile over the weekend and feel that they do belong on here. In my case it is a profile for someone who recently died and I have the exact dates and places for her life, as well as sources and this information could help break a brick wall in the future. I know that the profile you are referring is for someone who died century's ago but you never know, someone else may be looking for that person and that profile could provide the information they need because it does have a source.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
This is the exact logic I have followed when I've run across unconnected people on census lists.

I've found immigrants who were working as "servants" or living as a boarder in a household of a family I'm researching. The census listing has their full name, est'd birth year, where they were born and where their parents were born. If I add them here, then someone who may have lost them when they emigrated may be able to find the again.
+30 votes
Sometimes when I am reading a book, which may have nothing to do with the specific family or may not even be genealogy related, I will add an unconnected profile for the sole purpose of attaching the person to the source. Someone who is interested in the profile may never find the source again.

I hope these unconnected profiles will eventually be connected.
by Rick Pierpont G2G6 Pilot (111k points)
Kudos to you!
+26 votes

I've added several unconnected profiles for people I ran across who shared a name and confusingly similar biographical details with someone I was working on. I did this to make it easier to tell these people apart. In most instances, I've managed to connect these people to the tree (for example, I am pleased to say that there currently are no unconnected men named Perley Howe!), but some people probably can never be connected (for example, there is credible documentation on John Tilley, d. 1636, but no documentation of his family), and others are just difficult.

I've also created some unconnected profiles for long-dead notables (several of whom shared names with someone else I was working on) who ought to be connected to the tree someday. I've subsequently connected some of these, but not all. I don't believe I'm harming the project when I create unconnected profiles for U.S. Supreme Court justices, mayors of large cities, once-famous-but-now-forgotten authors and preachers who were the namesakes of many children, etc.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+31 votes
Last year I found a slim volume (42 pages privately published in 1954) concerning the Hodges family of Delaware Co., Ohio.  I entered the family, unconnected.  I find now that someone has connected to it and it goes back a couple of centuries. It was worth it to me, and probably others that I entered an unconnected family.
by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (193k points)
Nice work Tom!
+25 votes
Not too long ago I stumbled over a few profiles without any sources or even dates. In my attempt to find some sources for them I found out that they were the disputed and ultimately disproven ancestors of the French philosopher and writer Voltaire. I found his accepted and sourced ancestors and from there documents showing a connection to some old New England families via Huguenot emigrants first to England and then to America. Once this line has been verified Voltaire will be connected to the big tree.

So, if somebody creates unconnected profiles with sources it will eventually be even easier to connect them, it just takes someone with an interest in these profiles.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (523k points)
+39 votes

I don't see any conflict between our mission to connect the human family and adding unconnected people.

Of course, I recognize that it adds to our worklist to connect profiles that are unconnected, but these people are certainly part of "the human family" and, therefore, included in our mission.  Adding their profiles is the first step toward accomplishing our mission - after all, how can we connect them if their profiles aren't here?
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (779k points)
If we could not add unconnected profiles here at WikiTree, there would be no One Name Study nor One Place Study projects here.
Actually there would be no on here at all because we all start out unconnected.
Hear, hear!!!
@ Dale Byers -- I was thinking something along those lines too. Most of the profiles I have written are connected, but I have no idea how that happened.
+22 votes
Generally data has to begin somewhere. You were very lucky to start entering your tree and have it immediately connected to the larger community. Some individuals are not connected until they have entered many generations. If everyone keeps entering information, at some point, we will all be connected.

I enter a lot of unconnected profiles because there is no "friend" relationship. I have historical photographs or letters that people are identified in. It is nice to be able to enter the information of that person and provide a link to the photograph or letter. At some point a family member may be entering information and come across the photograph and the information. There is no reason to ignore the information if you have it, just because it does the person is not yet connected.
by Lance Martin G2G6 Mach 9 (90.9k points)
+17 votes
I add unconnected people I find that have the surname of a known ancestor because I can't connect them to the family at that time.  I've come back after finding proof and connect them.  Sometimes others  have connected them to their lines.
by K Suire G2G1 (1.4k points)
+20 votes
Bear with me, I've got a couple of 'unconnected' thoughts on this :-)

One of the aspects of WikiTree that really attracted me was the idea that it's not only about 'my' family tree, or my personal contributions.  We collaborate, we build on what others before us have contributed, and (hopefully) others will find our work and carry on.  Everything is a work in progress.  On WikiTree, we play the long game.  We think fourth-dimensionally - to paraphrase Doc Brown of Back To The Future. ;-)

To that end, I see "unconnected" as a temporary state, and not in conflict with the wider goal of connecting us all together.

I've added many unconnected files.  My own family was "Unconnected" for a very long time.

Recently, I've begun adding unrelated people in anticipation of a project I'd like to get off the ground.  Some of them have fascinating life stories.  Some of them have no living descendants and/or no one left alive who remembers who they were.  I think their stories deserve to be told.  Perhaps one day, some distant relative will come around and find them, and hook them up to their own family contributions.  I hope that's what happens.

Til then, playing the long game...
by Vicky Majewski G2G6 Mach 7 (74.9k points)
+13 votes
I have had great luck connecting a few unconnected profiles to my family.  I was a very pleasant surprise when I searched for profiles before creating a new one.  I was glad they were there.
by Trudy Roach G2G6 Pilot (182k points)
+11 votes

My uncle did research in Czechoslovakia and his Bohemian relatives informed him of US relatives he never knew that had come to the US before his father did in 1917.  The relatives were connected to each other, but not to our family tree.  We have hopes of finding the connections, but have not as yet found them.

by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
That is wonderful. what a great find!
+10 votes
What an interesting old thread...and great discussion.

I recently stumbled across a small cluster of unconnected profiles that matched an unusual family name in my tree. Researched a bit further and found a connection. http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/290162/i-grafted-a-small-twig-into-the-big-ol-tree

Then later, while researching another side of the family with a much more common name, found an unrelated family that was causing confusion, so I added the unconnected profile in order to reject the match to avoid confusing them in the future. http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/294784/adding-unconnected-profiles

I felt quite pleased and satisfied with my research in both cases.
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (532k points)
+6 votes
I have added unconnected profiles, in part because I didn't know how else to add sources to unsourced names in the Ayers/Ayre One Name Study.  

Lately, I've been sourcing profiles and adding parents, etc., going back to the 1600's in Massachusetts, hoping to tie in to the Puritan Great Migration names.  I have had some success.

Yesterday, I sourced a female ancestor, created profiles for her parents (Moses & Lois Maynard; 1600's in Massachusetts) and found her brother -- unsourced and without parents.  So I've helped connect a family, but they're still not part of the bigger tree. YET.

I'm guessing each of us develops our own paths as we help with Wiki.
by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (165k points)

Thanks for your example!
+5 votes
Some unconnected profile were connected in someone's tree, but the connection was lost when the GEDCOM was imported because their parent or spouse wa already on WT. Unfortunately, many of these profiles are now orphans, or managed by inactive PM's, which makes connection to the Tree really, really difficult. If there is NO information in the profile, best case is to try to find a profile with the same name and propose a merge, and wait 30 days.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (200k points)
+4 votes
I know this is an old thread, but I have a related question. What about WikiTreers who create profiles from a census record and then orphans the profiles without connecting them to the tree? I assume that they are checking for duplicates, but this is adding hundreds of unconnected profiles to WikiTree without a profile manager. I discovered this after adopting many Frazier profiles that I found without a profile manager. I am trying to break down a Frazier brick wall, so I am trying to research all Fraziers. But when I saw that these profiles had all been recently created by the same person from a census record, then orphaned, I investigated. I discovered that this very active WikiTreer is methodically uploading images of census records and creating hundreds of unconnected profiles from them (except for the immediate family) and then orphaning them. I don't have a problem with the creation of the profiles,  just with the orphaning of so many unconnected profiles. What is WikiTree policy on this?
by Edie Kohutek G2G6 Mach 7 (73.8k points)
Seems like a bad idea to create just from one census record. My thought is based on all the errors (misspelling, wrong age, etc.) I have seen on census records and all the questions I see in G2G questioning accuracy of census records.
One cannot go on creating profiles forever without at some stage reaching the magic 5000 profiles limit. I often work on english profiles that are not in my "tree" and then orphan them after I have added my information, in order to keep my watchlist below that limit.

Orphaned profiles are not always sub-standard, or to be regarded as cast offs to be merged away, an attitude I come across sometimes on Wikitree. They represent a person who once lived and as such should be given respect, whether connected or not.

I recall once a discussion on Wikitree as to whether open profiles should have a manager at all.
I guess I have 2 issues with creating profiles solely from census records and then orphaning them when they are not connected to the tree. And it has nothing to do with their being given respect. Of course each of those profiles represent someone who has once lived. The first issue is that the numbers of unconnected profiles are being created exponentially with no one to care about them. They are simply languishing in WikiTree outer space.  If there is no issue with unconnected profiles, then why do we have an entire project dealing with unconnected profiles? I guess I feel it is thoughtless to intentionally create profiles that are going to be unconnected and orphaned. If the WikiTreer was connecting them to families, I wouldn't have an issue. Or if they created the profiles for a specific research purpose and then orphaned them, I guess I wouldn't have a complaint about that. But I feel like it is making extra work for other peple. The other issue I have is that when someone does create a profile for a person contained in one of these census records for their own family tree, then they will be creating a duplicate which will require a merge, unless they happen to catch the duplicate on creation. The Census records do not have accurate birth dates, just estimates. And many won't have a place of birth, so how is someone supposed to know they are a duplicate for the person they are creating?

I assume the person creating all these profiles thinks they are being helpful, but I feel like he is creating unconnected profiles that are just floating out there without any purpose, and potentially causing more duplicates to be created.
I have a different perspective on this. There are a few French Canadian WikiTreers who basically create loads of profiles based on their Nos Origines pages (that's basically an online family tree for French Canadians, but it's generally very accurate and a great starting point). They then usually orphan the profiles. These consist of names, dates, places, and a link to their Nos Origines page.

Now, the last few days I've been trying to fill in some gaps in my tree. Quite a few times, I've searched to see if a profile already exists, and found one of these created and orphaned profiles. So they've actually saved me time because instead of having to create those profiles and enter all the data all I had to do was link to them.

I'm a Cemeterist (as mentioned above, we pretty much create unconnected profiles all the time!), so obviously I'm totally cool with that. In my opinion, any quality contribution to WikiTree is a good thing, whether it's connected to the tree or not.
Lianne, I would say that as a Cemeterist you have a specific research purpose that you are fulfilling. Besides, the profiles you are creating have a known (presumably) date of death and burial location against which duplicates can be verified. Plus I think cemeterists serve a great purpose! How many people can actually go to those locations and find those people? I think that is very helpful. I know nothing about Nos Origines pages, but I am sure profiles created from this information would be helpful as a starting place. This is different from simply taking a random census page and creating profiles from it using estimated birth years and no other connections. When we create a profile and look for a duplicate, we may or may not identify one of these random profiles as a duplicate because of a lack of information. These profiles are basically just duplicating census information that anyone can find using FamilySearch.
Are you talking about unconnected or disconnected, Eddie? Unconnected people are in branches of tree, whether small or large, that are just not connected to the main tree, disconnected are individual profiles floating on their own.

I wouldn't create disconnected profiles at all, unless I am going to be adding to them imminently. I only ever create profiles that are sourced and connected in at least one relationship. It's not always easy to connect these people to the main tree but they are usually connected to people in their community and I keep plugging away at my branches and revisiting profiles I have orphaned, to add any more info that comes along in the hope of connecting their branch to the main tree. I even occasionally readopt, if the person becomes more significant to my work through information I uncover in my research.

My own maternal line took months to connect to the main tree because of the way they lived, seldom moving out of their community. This would also apply to islanders or people in remote communities. It doesn't necessarily mean people are not trying, though I concur that many don't.
No, these are "disconnected" profiles, as you put it, with "mostly empty profiles" only they are floating in nuclear family groups.  They appear to be simply profiles created from random census records. The only things in these profiles are the filled data fields with an estimated birth date and the uploaded records. There is no written biography or sources.  They are connected to the nuclear family group from the Census records which they are created, but they are not connected to any larger family group. If they were old profiles created a long time ago, I probably wouldn't question them. But it appears they are currently being created by the tens if not hundreds and being immediately orphaned.  So they are incrementally adding to the numbers of unconnected, mostly empty profiles which have no profile manager. It's possible someone is finding a way to create hundreds of profiles in order to have a higher contribution number, and it's possible the person thinks this is a good contribution, but I think it is creating more problems for WikiTree than it is helping. If someone is researching their ancestor, they are more likely going to find the same census record themselves than one of these profiles.  And either they will be forced to merge with it as a duplucate, or these profiles will just be floating out their disconnected and orphaned. This is not the same as doing family research or even making people easy to find, for example from cemetery records. These records are out there online for anyone to find.

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